How to use Twitter as a training & learning tool
Training:Training is the conscious and planned process of transferring knowledge, skills and attitudes to others.The concept of transfer here is critical, as is the element of planning.Learning:Learning is the processing and assimilation of what we hear, see or experience that alters or improves our knowledge, skills and attitudes.The combination of knowledge, skills and attitudes is behaviour. If someone trains us, or we learn something new or different, it is our behaviour that is affected.If our behaviour is changed, we have learnt something.Training is active - it is conscious and planned - it does not just happen.Summary - Training is done TO individuals - Learning is done BY individualsBack to micro-blogging.Now we understand the difference between training and learning, we can start to explore the various ways that twitter and other micro-blogging platforms can give us. Twitter is a platform, not a solution. It is a way of getting information from one to many people - in many directions at once. There is no single right or wrong way to engage with the technology. It is this that is causing many barriers to people. If one of your first questions is "How can you train anyone in 140 characters" then you are in the wrong place - if your first question is "How might this technology enable me and other to learn" then you have a chance. Web 2.0 is not about "How can itÂ…"Â… its is about "how can IÂ…". Technology like this is often a solution waiting for a problem. Much like the first PCs and desktop computers. many said that there was not a place for personal computersTwitter is a great tool for developing, maintaining and growing communities of practice. people with a common reason to connect. the use of hash-codes (#) has been beneficial in this. Essentially you can search for these in twitter search (and other) and find people tweeting views, opinions and facts from events or about key topics. Topics that are relevant at the time.Within certain limitations it can be used as a training tool, however it is much more powerful for the learner as a learning tool.For me, the killer offer from twitter is the fact that it is predominately real time, here and now. Older material is on the whole ignored. As the pace of change increases faster and faster, we need to find out about solutions here and now. Twitter can do that. If we use traditional search engines the content may be 5-10 years old. The 'trick' to twitter is that you do not do something once - you do it several times. Using Twitter to train English as a second languageIn 2007 some research in China was carried out to look at uses of Twitter in education for the teaching of English - it was clearly a tool of value.Other examples and applications:Universities like Manchester are experimenting with twitter as a tool for learningThe site teaching technology has 12 tips for using twitter in the classroomCan twitter be used in the 'classroom' - yes indeed. Twitter and other collaboration and communication tools - This tool, along with other classroom online tools, allows the classroom to move from being a centre of isolation to a centre of learning without walls.Twitter in the corporate training worldTwitter has its place as a social networking and media tool, but for me it also has a unique place in training and learning:Training - just in time tips, reminders, prompts, sparksLearning - current thinking, current opinions, trends in a sector/ discipline, sparksSome uses of twitter as a training tool:Reminders of upcoming training eventsReminders of key learning contentPre-emptive help for learning a new process or procedureLinks to articles of interestSeminar/classroom attendee communications sharing a relevant point of viewTeam communications allowing learners a real time archive to how the team is progressing and issues they are encountering.For Twitter to work effectively a number of strategies need to be utilized (as the training provider):Repetition - key messages should be repeated regularly - people see messages here and now - not in history - Just in time stuff!Repetition - the same message using different words (VAK, preferences etc)Hash tags - an effective #tag needs to be created for each learning event or subjectIndirect messages should support direct messagesUse quotes to support key learning pointsLink to useful articles/ sources of information - say what the benefit is in the tweetEnsure that linked pages are mobile device friendlyAccessibilityOne of the most powerful factors of twitter as a learning and training tools is its accessibility. While many organizations currently block Twitter from internal use, twitter can be easily used on almost any handheld device. This means that it can be used at almost any time in any place. Its simple text based interface means that it is cross platform and not dependant on other technology, and works equally well on a PC screen and a phone screen. This level of accessibility should not be ignored.If you are using Twitter to point to other relevant links, make sure the link is readable by a handheld device (much like this blog), many sites are too complex or difficult to navigate on a phone or PDA.Its simplicity and accessibility are what is making this platform successful and will maintain its success.
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